Tyler Perry joined the “CBS Mornings” hosts in the studio on Tuesday to talk about “Maxine’s Baby,” a new documentary his long-time partner Gelila Bekele made about his life.
Perry said that he had no creative control over the documentary, which was an unusual position for the actor, producer, director and media mogul. He said that cameras followed him for 10 years to make the film.
“It’s not a story that I’m telling … It’s my life,” Perry said, adding that he hopes his struggles and triumphs displayed in the film will inspire others. “If that happens, then it was all worth it for me.”
The documentary is named for Perry’s mother, Maxine, who passed away in 2009 after a long illness. Perry said that it was Maxine who inspired him to become the multi-hyphenate star that he is known as today.
“Everything I did was about her. All the work was about her. I was never after money. It was always about making enough money to take care of her, to buy her medicine, to make sure we were never in poverty again,” Perry said. “No matter how much I had, it was never enough.”
When his mother died, Perry said “all of that was gone” and the fight to regain his motivation was slow.
“It was like a car that ran on gasoline all of a sudden say, ‘Now you need diesel,'” Perry said. “Now, my motivation has become watching all of the people who are coming into the studios, young, Black, everybody represented who has never gotten a chance in this business – that gives me the inspiration to keep going.”
Perry was referencing the self-named Tyler Perry Studios, a film production studio built on 330 acres of land in Atlanta. It’s the largest film complex in the country, according to previous CBS News reporting, and Perry is the first Black person to independently own a major film studio.
Because of his role as a studio owner and operator, and having been an actor, Perry has a unique perspective on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA actors’ strikes. Perry closed his studios to stand in solidarity with the unions, he said, and now holds food drives and fundraisers at the site. But he said it had been “debilitating” not to not work for so long.
“As we’re looking at all of this and as we’re negotiating, it is so important that [SAG-AFTRA president] Fran Drescher, [SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator] Duncan Ireland, the whole negotiating committee have done a fantastic job moving this forward … but it’s really important to know when we’ve won. This is only a three-year deal. In two years, two-and-a-half years, we’ll be renegotiating again,” Perry said. “So we have to know what have we won, and what have we won for now? That’s the thing. For now. … If I had ran my business trying to get everything at once, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got as much as I can for now, so let’s see what we can do next.”